This position statement was archived on 11/7/2012 as not appropriate for AMSN.


  • The medical-surgical nurse must be trained in terrorism awareness to include self-protection, clinical manifestations of biological and chemical agent exposure, and treatment management for persons exposed to such agents.
  • The medical-surgical nurse has a primary commitment to the safety and care of the victims of terrorism, and the safety of other health care providers.
  • The medical-surgical nurse should participate in local disaster drills that focus on responding to terrorism.
  • The medical-surgical nurse provides leadership in terrorism education and response by working in conjunction with hospitals and public health officials to enhance preparedness at the community level.
  • The medical-surgical nurse supports legislation that strengthens the capability of health care providers to respond to an attack of terrorism.
  • Health care facilities must be prepared for terrorist attacks and must prepare all employees to manage victims of terrorism.
  • Information on terrorism and its impact on nursing practice should be included in the curriculum for basic nursing preparation.


The threat of terrorist attacks has increased over the last 2 decades. Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, citizens and residents of the United States have realized the country must be better prepared for future terrorist's attacks, including biological and chemical assaults that could result in mass casualties. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all nurses be trained at the basic awareness level.


Health care institutions and their personnel, including nurses, must be prepared to care for victims of terrorist attacks.


Bioterrorism is the deliberate violent use of biological or chemical means to effect terror and destruction.

Biological agents (weapons) are those agents capable of spreading deadly diseases. A vector may be needed to spread the disease. Examples would include anthrax, small pox and similar biological agents.

Chemical agents (weapons) are those agents capable of killing, injuring, or debilitating victims by causing burns or interrupting neurotransmitters. A vector may not be needed to transmit these agents. Nerve agents are one example of chemical agents that is harmful to the public's health and well-being.

Terrorism is the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, its civilians or any segment thereof, in the furtherance of political or social objectives.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2009). Emergency preparedness and response. Retrieved September 10, 2009, from www.bt.cdc.gov

International Council of Nurses. (2009) Nursing matters: Terrorism and bioterrorism: Nursing preparedness. Retrieved September 10, 2009, from http://www.icn.ch/matters_bio.htm

Veenema, T. G. & Toke, J. (2006). Early detection and surveillance for biopreparedness and emerging infectious disease. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 11(1).Retrieved from http://www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/ANAMarketplace/ANAPeriodicals/OJIN/TableofContents